Energy utilities and TAFE join forces to upskill WA workers

Linesman climbs transmission tower for Western Power (TCS)
Photo: Western Power

The cleaner, lower cost and more reliable delivery of electricity to customers across Western Australia is requiring new skills in the energy sector. 

The State Government has taken action by investing in a first-of-its-kind training program to upskill its energy utility workers in new energy technology solutions, such as standalone power systems. 

On Monday, 12 Western Power and Horizon Power electricity supply industry distribution powerlines and cable jointing workers commenced a 12-month program at North Metropolitan TAFE to become trade qualified electrical fitters. 

Once qualified, the employees will be able to operate, maintain and repair standalone power systems, which combine solar, battery and diesel generation.

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The Horizon Power Port Hedland and Karratha-based employees will be able to maintain and repair the North West interconnected system transmission terminal yards and distribution substations in the Pilbara, as well as the new Onslow utility grade solar farm and battery. 

The training program is a collaboration between TAFE, Horizon Power, Western Power, and the WA Utilities, Engineering, Electrical and Automotive Training Council.

By 2020, Horizon Power will have installed 17 standalone power systems for customers living in the Neridup and Beaumont farming areas in the Goldfields-Esperance region.

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This new training initiative complements Western Power’s existing partnership with TAFE to develop skills for the growing rollout of standalone power units.  Western Power will install a further 57 standalone power systems this year, which is Australia’s biggest rollout. 

Energy Minister Bill Johnston said the energy sector is experiencing a rapid transformation worldwide and as such it’s important the appropriate training programs available to upskill workers and ensure they’re equipped to meet the technological requirements of the future are in place. 

“The McGowan Government is committed to delivering a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply for Western Australians for decades to come,” he said.

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